Week 2

This was my first TWC lesson, as some of my other classmates who attended Session 1 have reflected on their blogs , the topics raised are engaging and there was a healthy level of interaction between the Prof and us. I observed that the people in class come from rather diverse backgrounds, and it’s interesting to see how different people view a certain issue from different perspectives, which adds value to the discussions conducted during lessons.

BRIEF OVERVIEW

After a short introduction of the newcomers in class, we started lesson proper with a quick recap of the topics raised in Week 1. Prof Shahi raised a thought provoking question from a video Guns, Germs and Steel “Why do white people have so much cargo, but we New Guineans have so little?”

We commenced the first half of the lesson on “Technology, Society and Global Dominance” with a video on “China could already be world’s largest economy”. We explored various dimensions of global dominance and were introduced to the Shahi Organizational Behaviour Model for Identifying Innovative Leaders and Dominant Players, followed by 2 individual presentations by Dickson and Gabriel. We also discussed briefly about the 3 recommended readings, which centred on the topic of Colonialism.

The second half of the lesson was on “Technology and Human Development”, which began with a video on the  “Millennium Development Goals”, which are eight international development goals that 192 UN member states have agreed to achieve by year 2015. (With a mere 5 years left, is it really possible?) We examined how development relates to world change, and the various dimensions of development, before rounding off the lesson with two individual presentations by Dennis and Ji Shun.

INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS & IDEAS

Prof Shahi raised an intriguing point when we were discussing about gender inequality especially in education, that investing in a female’s education generates greater benefits than that of a male’s. The reason behind this belief is that females tend to share their knowledge and skills with their family, thus their children and extended family reap positive externalities as well. While this is not exactly related to technology, it is a societal issue worth pondering over. In countries where gender inequality prevails, education is more accessible to males than to females, which is highly unfair as I believe everyone has the right to education. The disproportionate entitlement to education is something worth fighting for, and I hope more could be done by the UN about this issue. That aside, what was noteworthy about this point is the perspective that the rewards from education varies between the two genders. I used to subscribe to the notion that the amount of benefits one reaps from education depends solely on one’s learning abilities, but what I failed to notice was the external benefits of knowledge and skill that others apart from the primary learner can derive.

The second thing that struck me most from this lesson, was Yali’s question from “Guns, Germs and Steel”“Why do white people have so much cargo, but we New Guineans have so little?” One main argument would be the geographical location of Papau New Guinea, compared to Europe. A good location encourages trade, which brings about competition. Competition between states creates the need for self-improvement and the ability to seek tools and instruments to move ahead with times, which generates wealth and prosperity. The New Guineans, who faced no external pressure to change, developed in isolation and never progressed, hence they stagnated industrially, socially and technologically.

KEY TAKE AWAY POINTS

“Change is inevitable and often necessary, the transition progress can often be difficult or painful (for some)”

Change can be seen as progress or regress. With regards to the triangular model, from both micro and macro perspectives,  companies, organizations and countries all take turns to be rising or falling stars, and/or dominant players. In terms of globalization, modern technological advancements could lead to the sacrifice of heritage and traditions. The spread of the Internet could lead to wider social networks but the dilution of relationships as a trade-off. Citing an example mentioned in the second recommended reading, Rising Up To The Global Challenge, one of the fundamental changes in the global economic landscape is the radical change in the economic map of the world – I mean the emergence of China as a ‘rising star’. Developing countries like China are highly vulnerable to the negative impacts of globalization, such as the urban-rural inequality, and societal issues such as unemployment and security. Such difficulties and problems faced may be foreseen, thus much can be done by the government to work with its people to put the country in a better position to face such challenges.

ISSUES FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION

Ji Shun presented on the topic of Singularity, however due to time constraints, there was little or no time at all, to discuss much about this topic. I believe that this term is as foreign to many of my fellow classmates as it is to me, and I hope more time could be spent discussing this in the next lesson.

OVERALL RATINGS FOR SESSION 2

I would give it a 7.5/10. 0.5 points was deducted due to the fact the the later part of the lesson was very rushed, and topics raised were merely skimmed through due to the lack of time. Perhaps with only 3 presenters in the following weeks to come, we will have more time for discussions and hence delve deeper into the issues raised. Overall, lesson was fun nonetheless. I like the idea of the Facebook page to update us about insightful readings, it is a good way to engage the students and is highly relevant especially in this course, Technology and World Change.

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